16. the one with digging (& sunburn)

in my family, “shit or get off the pot” is one of our favourite sayings.
after procrastinating all day tuesday, i started shitting on wednesday. and by that i mean digging.

i’ve been putting it off for so long, because those ^ bricks are from when we did the kitchen extension (may 2010) and after they moved to here, mowing became sporadic. i mean, i like stacking and restacking bricks as much as the next girl, but…

i thought i’d use some of them to make a rustic* raised bed for the vegetables that FutureMe will have time to grow and tend to. because FutureMe won’t be restacking bricks or mowing.

(*rustic means not using a spirit level. or cement.)

of course, every inch of ground that i reclaim from sturdy grass and dandilion shrubs, involves digging down, harvesting what topsoil i can from their root systems, and then DISAPPEARING the great big chunks of turf i’m left with.

(that’s not as easy as it sounds, because 1. there is no rear access to our garden, so i have to use MAGIC.
it’s further complicated by the fact that 2. when we did the bathroom (january 2008), i had to DISAPPEAR rather a lot of builders rubble and yet more bricks. so i buried the rubble in trenches and used the bricks for a path. all of which has been hidden by the overgrown “lawn”) <– more magic

thursday, then, was more of the same. digging, magician-ing & recycling bricks, in relentless heat under a cloudless sky. wearing only a bikini and SPF16 (expiry date: 2005). idiot.

^ that’s kitchen wall and sewing room chimney bricks for the raised bed, and bathroom floor bricks as edging pavers.

this is how bored i am of restacking effing bricks:


because i’m such an awesome Housewife, Husband went shopping thursday evening and treated me to some bags of sharp sand and a new roll of that weed suppressant stuff :D
he also made sympathetic faces and applied aftersun to my tragic sunburnt back. he’s the best!

yesterday, friday, the end(of the digging) was eventually in sight. *grubby, sweaty airpunch*

and all i need now, is for Husband to buy me 62356384653846867 more bags of 20mm gravel.
when he’s not so busy.


15. the one with sunshine

the sun was out today. like, PROPER .
so i abandoned Everything Else in favour of gardening(ish).

this is what 2 months of neglect looks like, after abandoning a job started 18 months ago…

oh maybe it doesn’t look so bad on the internet? the knee-high grass has disguised the stack of bricks, and the hawthorn’s so overgrown you can barely make out the cement mixer :)

all i had to do today was make a start on clearing “a bit”.
so i can rebuild the steppy-up brick wall
or sieve a load of top soil (it’s been bagged up so long, the weeds growing out of it are as high as my waist)
or dig up more grass to lay the paving slabs
or dig up more grass to put gravel
or dig up more grass to make another raised bed for my veggies

because i’m certain that self-sufficiency will occur just as soon as that area of the garden is under control.
i hope so.

blueberry (singular. one each. if the blackbird doesn’t get them first)

and will these 2010 leeks be okay still, do you think?

at least i’ll be alright for feverfew when the apocalypse comes.

so then,
“just make a start, fiona. anywhere you like. just a start. not the whole thing in one day, just a little bit.”   <—  i talk to myself a lot. i need gentle coaxing.

*back down at the house, scrubbing green slime off the wall*
“oh. oh okay, this is good too”

*re-arranging plant pots at the back door*

still, it’s a vast improvement from 2007 when we first moved in…

… oh. no it really isn’t.

14. the one with all the duvet win

i think Normal People take at least one day off a week? to do Normal Person things; nice things, going out things, or just nothing at all?

i am not Normal People.
if Husband and i aren’t doing work-work things at the weekend, we have a number of outdoors projects on the go, and an endless list of indoors DIY related stuff to tackle. we go to the dump like Normal People go to the shops. when we do go to the shops, it’s for everyday essentials like gripfill or sharp sand.
on the rare occasion we schedule “nothing”, we play catch up with stuff like cleaning, ironing, washing the car *cough*, mowing the lawn… the other things.

we never sprawl on the couch for 15+ hours on a saturday, for example.
but yesterday we did :D 
curtains shut, in our pyjamas, completely idle, under duvets, eating kit kats, & catching up with all the rubbish we’ve been video-ing off the telly but haven’t had time to watch.

i wasn’t entirely idle – i’d packed away my  harry potter game of thrones quilt before the last round of building work (it’s white)(apart from where i’ve spilt hot chocolate on it) so, snuggled beneath it, i carried on hand stitching.

in the future, i’ll now remember it as my one tree hill season 9 how i met your mother 2 broke girls quilt.

snuggly saturdays full of duvet-win are not just for humans…

now, for FOUR YEARS, i have been head-inventioning Curtain Duvets, the idea being to add a detachable, thick thermal lining to our budget curtains from you-know-where.

our little cottage is listed, which means that
1. the windows are single glazed = cold & draughty
2. the non-standard front door (which is damp, rotten, mouldy as well as cold & draughty) desperately needs replacing, but that requires lengthy permissions faff from the council, and anyway, b£$pok£ is not in our budget at the moment.

wrangling 2m x 2m pieces of fluffy blanket-y stuff and polycotton lining fabric upon my no-floorspace for the measuring and cutting was no mean feat, but i coped okayish (by walking all over it and kneeling under the table to pin stuff <— professional sewing tip).
i cut the blanket-y stuff to fit within the top & side seams of the curtains, layered the lining fabric on top of that, overlocked all the edges, then turned & stitched a narrow hem all round.

the curtains are 100% cotton & shrink every time i wash them, so i needed the 100% synthetic lining to be removable. i’d “considered” velco, or poppers, or neatly handstitching them in place… but seriously…

… i always knew laziness would win, so i went with a massive length (machine) straight stitch which i can easily rip apart on some vague future occasion when washing must occur.  these linings are for practical reasons only, and no one will ever see my horrible shortcuts.

i was afraid they’d end up MASSIVE and i’d never be able to open the door again, so i was pleasantly surprised when i hung them – despite the thickness they haven’t encroached on the general door-ular area, and they fold back all tidy…

like grown ups curtains! i declare them a success. *smug*

spurred on by my awesome 50’s housewife skillz, i thought i would turn my hand to baking next. my baking fails are legendary, so this should have come as no surprise…

*deflated*  <– like my scones

13. the one with all of the birds

when Bad Times are occurring, i like to clean.
super mad obsessive insanity cleaning; like scrubbing the floor tiles with a toothbrush for eg.
and i become really seriously anti-social – like, more than normal even – because sharing or explaining woes is so draining. and, duh, i need to direct all that energy into cleaning.

my intention is not to make light of the very sad news i received on saturday morning, but by the time it came, my kettle and draining board were already gleaming.

so to make my head SHUT!, i turned to my other obsession instead. Sewing.

i love sewing these birds. it’s been easy to lose myself in the cutting of tiny leaves and tail feathers, and i find the shape of these birds, from the curve of their chests to the swoosh of their tails, really satisfying to work on.

i’ve made a couple of pencil cases and purses…

^ his eye is super wonky, but i’m learning to GET OVER IT because I AM NOT A MACHINE

and a couple of pieces of wall art…

and today my “new insides” arrived – i have a new supplier for the books i put inside my embroidered covers – so i had a tinker adjusting the pattern and scaling the design so it’ll work better on the new size books…

but these aren’t the only birds i’ve been staring at.

when i’m not at my sewing table, i’m standing in the garden watching mr & mrs robin

(they’re not overly keen on me getting close enough for photos)

who have moved in here…

…with their 7 egg-babies :)

it’s a stupid place to nest – the very bit where i step off the “patio” onto the grass. right next to the bench where i sit & drink my coffee. right next to the washing line. and just opposite anakin’s toilet.
right next to all of the busy things.

the robins are very busy things too! out of the nest & over the hedge. onto the fence. onto the cherry tree. onto the washing line… and there they wait, watching me. and i walk backwards toward the house, one step at a time, until they decide it’s okay and they hummingbird their way back into the nest.
one comes out, one goes in.
all day long.

it’s possible i am dividing my time equally between bird watching and bird stitching at the moment.



***please note:  do not use any images without my prior consent.
all artworks are copyright fiona t. and/or Little Black Heart and may not be reproduced in any form.***

12. the one with the zombie survivors giveaway winner

thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway – i so enjoyed reading your funny & sweet comments!

in the interests of fairness, i asked my gorgeous 13 year old to pick the winner. i don’t *think* she can read, but you can never be sure with collies…

“anakin, wait.”

“anakin, get it!”

okay, so it didn’t go as planned…
stupid collie.
in the end, the winner was the slip of paper she guarded after it got stuck to her face (& stuck to the floor…)

congratulations Louise Farrow!

i’ll be in touch just as soon as i’ve washed my hands. and the the floor.

thanks again to everyone who took part :)

11. the one with the zombie survivors giveaway

***edit: now sHuT!***

when i’m working i listen to music.

being predictable & obsessive about things, it’s usually the same playlist. in the same order. every day.
so most of the stuff that i make is created to 30 seconds to mars, alexisonfire, brand new, city & colour…

but sometimes i have tv or a dvd on for background noise, and then my brain forever associates whatever it is i’ve made with that show. in this way, i’ve ended up with a 24 blanket, a royal wedding sock, a the wire scarf…
and one poorly weekend on the couch lumbered me with a harry potter quilt (ugh).

i created my zombie horde whilst watching series 4 of buffy the vampire slayer :)

so, for a chance to win the trio of zombie apocalypse survivors, leave a comment below telling me what song (or film or tv series) reminds you of something you’ve done or made.

^ prize: heavily bandaged kitten, fox & rabbit survivor trio

the winner will be chosen at random.
competition closes on friday 11th of may at 12 noon.
i’ll post the winners name here, and be in touch shortly afterwards.

good luck!

10. the one with my sister’s birthday

we went to lincolnshire for the weekend.

normally, no matter what, my sister’s birthday weekend heralds the beginning of The Hot.  usually it’s clear blue skies and glorious sunshine, we braai (that’s barbecue in english) in her beautiful garden, and complain about how quickly the ice cubes in our drinks are melting.

this year there was sleet.
and she was in the throes of DIY-woes anyway (it’s a family thing, clearly) so we celebrated with a birthday lunch at mum & dad’s house instead. inside. with the heating on.

i forgot to take any photos, so you’ll just have use your imagination.
much lovely food and cake occurred here:

^ mum’s best cake stands, featuring some left over crumbs. and a recipe for cake.

we ended up perched at that table for TWELVE HOURS as the chatting & lols continued late into the night.
hey don’t you hate, right, when you’re laughing so hard that you think you’re going to be sick? when you can’t catch your breath and your muscles go into spasm, and there’s so much tears and snot running down your face that you can’t see, and you slide helplessly onto the floor in an uncontrollable, hysterical mess?
or is that just me?

these are mum’s cane dining room chairs, circa i don’t even know when.

they look kinda pretty, right? but they are UNCOMFORTABLE!
especially after 39 and a half years 12 hours of sitting.

it was a really good day, but oh! i am a wreck today – all aching lol-muscles, dehydrated and tired, with a stinkin’ cake hangover.
here’s me & anakin looking haggard: